Featured Stories

Yousuf Omid

Yousuf in a cockpit of a plane

Yousuf Omid was born in 1989 in Kapisa, Afghanistan, during first period of Taliban rule. Living in a rural village under the control of resistance led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Taliban cut off all supply routes and arrested all military age males. As a young child, Yousuf walked six hours each way for groceries, he carried on his back to feed his family in hiding. Taliban frequently took the food he carried and beat him.

Yousuf’s high school did not have buildings. Classes were held outside under the protection of trees. He graduated in 2008 and entered the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, modeled after the U.S. Army’s West Point. It was the first time he attended school indoors. Four years later, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and aviation and entered service in the Afghan Air Force as a young Lieutenant.

Destined to become a pilot, Lieutenant Omid deployed to train in the Czech Republic, and while there, was selected to continue flight training with the United States Air Force first at the Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, MS, and then with the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, GA.

Omid returned to Afghanistan in 2018 as an A-29 pilot, an attack aircraft specifically designed by the Sierra Nevada Corporation for the rigorous terrain of central Asia. He flew approximately 450 missions over a three-year period as an American ally and under U.S. military supervision. He was promoted twice.

In December 2020, Major Omid flew to the United States after the Taliban discovered his residence in Kabul and attempted to assassinate him. Seven months later, with the Taliban advancing as the Americans were withdrawing, Major Omid consulted with American military advisors at the 81st Fighter Squadron, and he returned to Afghanistan. Fifty days later, on August 14, 2021, with the Taliban advancing on Kabul, Major Omid got on a commercial flight to Turkey and from there back to the United States.

In April 2022, through a coordinated effort, Omid’s wife and young daughter fled Kabul, Afghanistan and arrived in the United States a month later.

Yousuf Omid began to rebuild his life working at Amazon after losing his country, home, family, and career. In his spare time, he studied courses to transition from Afghan Air Force pilot to American commercial aviation. Private donors and non-profit donations funded his ground school, flight training, and check rides for his commercial pilot’s license.

FedEx hired Omid to fly C-208 Caravans for their Feeder Airline division. In September 2023, Captain Omid achieved his multi engine rating and is looking forward to a future in bigger planes.

AAF member Yousuf Omid

Tawab Adili

Adili standing next to a helicopter

Tawab Adili graduated from Officer’s Candidate School in 2008 and deployed to Herat Province of Afghanistan as a young infantry officer in the Afghan National Army. Over the course of four years, he was promoted to Company Executive Officer and then Company Commander.

When an opportunity came to join the Afghan Air Force, Tawab transferred to Kabul to learn English. In 2013, he deployed to the United States and trained at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and then at rotary wing flight school at Ft. Rucker (now Ft. Novosel) in Alabama.

Returning to Afghanistan eighteen months later, Captain Tawab Adili joined the Special Mission Wing as a proficient pilot in Mi 17 and UH 60 (Black Hawk) helicopters. Over the course of three years, he flew more than 1400 hours on missions preplanned by American Advisors and frequently flew mixed American and Afghan crews.

On August 15, 2021, Captain Adili was off duty when he received a phone call from his U.S. military advisor, who explained the capital of Afghanistan was collapsing to the Taliban and told Adili to go to the Kabul Air Wing as soon as possible. Once at the Air Wing, Captain Adili loaded his helicopter with all available equipment, weapons, and crew and flew with other components of the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing to Uzbekistan to prevent the helicopter and weapons from falling into the hands of the Taliban. Uzbekistan authorities placed him and others in a detention camp before eventual transfer to the United Arab Emirates and from there to the United States as a refugee in a military camp receiving humanitarian parole.

Tawab Adili’s wife and six children remain trapped in Afghanistan. He hasn’t seen them since August 2021. His daughters are not permitted to receive an education under Taliban law. Tawab Adili sends money to them every month from his earnings as an Uber driver and cashier. He says, “It’s my dream to see my family again and return to flying as a career.”

two individuals in the cockpit of a plane

Abdul Khetab Sharifi

Sharifi standing on the stairs of a plane

Coming from a military family that successfully drove the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, Abdul Khetab Sharifi went to military high school in Kabul, Afghanistan, with his eyes set on a military career. He graduated from the Afghan Air Force Academy in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation. Serving alongside his American counterparts for two decades (2001-2021) in the war on terror, Lieutenant Colonel Sharifi was selected for flight training in February 2011. He attended the Horizon International Flight Academy in the United Arab Emirates, a pilot training program funded by the United States Air Force. Sharifi returned to Afghanistan as a pilot of a PC 12NG, a single engine turboprop aircraft and was assigned to the Special Mission Wing, an elite aviation unit.

On August 15, 2021, as the capital of Kabul was collapsing to the Taliban, Lt. Colonel Sharifi and others, under instructions from their American military advisors, flew their aircraft out of Afghanistan to the neighboring countries of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Taliban. This act of heroism meant leaving his wife and seven children in Afghanistan.

Upon landing in Tajikistan in the fall of 2021, Lt. Colonel Sharifi spent 85 days in a detention camp before being transferred to another camp in the United Arab Emirates, where he remained for six months. He arrived in the United States on April 27, 2022, as part of Phase II of Operation Allies Welcome.

With more than two decades of military service as an ally of the United States, flight training provided by the U.S., 1500 hours of mission flight time as a PC 12 pilot, and speaking four languages, Lt. Colonel Sharifi lives in the Midwest and is currently unemployed. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration does not recognize his military service, his U.S. taxpayer funded flight training, or his nine years of flight experience. Lt. Colonel Sharifi hopes to return to a career in commercial aviation after proper transition training and check rides. He has not seen his wife and seven children since August 2021. They remain hidden from the Taliban and on the run.

team of AAF pilots posing for group photo


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I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to share the incredible news that my asylum case has been approved. Your guidance, encouragement, and assistance have been instrumental in navigating the complexities of the asylum application. The approval brings a sense of relief and a new chapter of stability for me. Thank you once again for standing by me and being a beacon of hope. I look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead and hope to share more positive updates with you in the future.

UH-60 (Black Hawk) Pilot
Afghan Air Force

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